If you’ve never used an online race time predictor the next few paragraphs may help you immensely as a runner. Setting goals for an upcoming race can be tough to do sometimes, especially for newer runners, runners who are coming back from an injury or long break, or even runners who have had a recent major breakthrough into new territory.

In order to achieve your best you must set good race goals. A good race goal has to be something that is attainable, but is still challenging enough to fire your imagination and inspire you to do the tough training required to get there.

A goal that is too lofty will leave you feeling discouraged, disappointed and even demoralized. After a few races where you’ve fallen far short of your goal and you may be inclined to throw away the running shoes altogether.

On the other hand, goals that are too easy don’t inspire. They don’t drive you to get out in the rain, the wind, the snow and sleet. They don’t motivate you to tough out a hard workout when you’re not “feelin’ it”. And, once you’ve accomplished a goal that was too easy you may find the whole experience was a non-event for you.

How Can a Race Pace Calculator Help You Set Good Goals?

There are a number of online tools available to you for predicting your appropriate finish time for an upcoming race. A running time calculator is really an indispensible tool for any serious runner, or anyone who wants to get better. In order to “win the battle” you have to have good information, and that is what a race pace calculator is all about. This is particularly important for marathon pace calculators, given the distance and difficulty of the event as well as the pains and trials of the training.

Billy Mills FinishA race pace calculator simply gives you the information you need to more accurately determine your capabilities going into any race. The way most race time predictors work is simple. Using a time and distance you recently raced the online predictor will calculate your expected finish time at some other race distance. For example, say you recently ran a 17:30 5k, and you have an upcoming 10k that you will be running. Using one of the many online race pace predictors you should be able to enter that information and get a very good race prediction for your 10k race.

 The science behind these online race pace calculators varies, but they are usually based largely on the experience of many different runners over time. They do give average expected results, however, not necessarily ideal results. One of the very best and most popular such tools is the McMillan Running Calculator. One of the reasons the McMillan calculator is so popular is that, once you’ve entered your one race distance and time the calculator determines equivalent race finish times for virtually every race distance from 100 meters on up to the marathon.

How to Get the Most From an Online Race Pace Calculator

In order to get the most out of online race time predictors consider the following helpful tips:

  • Use several different online tools and compare the results. If you use four different marathon pace calculators, for example, you will likely get four different predicted finish times. However, they should all be close to each other and, by comparing them you will get a better idea of what to shoot for in the big race.
  • The relevance of the race distance is important. A 1 mile race is not as good of a predictor of a marathon time as a 20k race would be. The closer in distance the two races are to each other the more accurate the results will be. However, an improvement at any distance will usually predict an improvement in all other distances
  • Consider the kind of training you’ve been doing. If you are training for longer races, such as a marathon, but the race you’re using to predict your marathon is a 5k, the results from the marathon pace calculator will probably be slower than what you are capable of running. On the other hand, if you’ve been training for 5k races your recent 5k race will likely predict a marathon time that is faster than what you can really handle.
  • Compare and contrast the conditions of the previous race with the upcoming race. If the 5k you raced last week was flat, but the 10k next week is hilly the ideal race pace will be somewhat slower than what the race time predictor suggests. Other factors to compare and contrast include weather conditions, course terrain (road versus trail, for example), altitude, heat, and others.
  • How has your training been going and how is your health? If your training has been going well since the 5k you can probably expect your 10k time to be faster than what the 5k predicts according to a race pace calculator. If you were fresh before the 5k, but you’ve been training very hard right before the 10k obviously that will affect your race performance
  • Consider the significance of the race, that is to say, the effort you put into the previous race and how much effort you plan to put into the upcoming race. If the 5k was just a filler race, or a building block of your schedule you may not have run it all out. Especially if the 10k is one of your main races you’ve been training for you may be able to pull off a much faster time than what the online race time predictors will tell you.

There are no absolute certainties when it comes to racing. That is part of what makes it so exciting! Each race is a new adventure. Yet online race time predictors can be great tools for helping you go in with your eyes wide open and guide you to achieve your own personal best.